Gateway conference up next for gridiron Jacks

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

In the rear-view mirror is the Great West Football Conference; up next for the gridiron Jacks is the Gateway.

The GFC has arguably the most talent of any subdivision football team in the land. For the last two years the Gateway has been rated at the top. By adding SDSU and North Dakota State University the league will go from competitive to ultra- competitive.

How good was it in the 2007 season? If NDSU was a part of the GWF then three teams would have gotten a top four seed in the FCS championships. Without NDSU, they only landed two of the four as top seeds. Northern Iowa (6-0, 12-0) and Southern Illinois University (5-1, 11-1) are in separate brackets and could meet for the championship game down the road.

A solid fan base, near sold-out stadiums, great college atmosphere, impressive defenses and a chance to compete for a national championship year in and year out will be great for the Jackrabbit nation. The problem with such a talented conference (only two teams have less than a .500 record out of eight) is that teams beat each other up and it is hard to win a good chunk of the games. What the Great West had was four solid opponents who year in and year out played competitive games against the Jacks. For four years it gave SDSU a shot at conference crowns and conference honors.

“We were blessed to be in the GWFC. That opportunity was a tremendous positive for our football program. Competing for conference championships, competing for conference honors,” said Head Coach John Stiegelmeier.

While a new league means forming new rivalries and possible league growing pains, the Gateway Football Conference will bring many positives to this football team. For starters, there will be eight games that SDSU will be guaranteed, that means instead of needing to schedule seven games, the SDSU athletic staff can focus on scheduling only three games. With this newfound time, the Gridiron Jacks can now travel to Iowa City to face the Cyclones (2008) and go to the Dome in Minneapolis to face the Gophers (2009). No doubt that other BCS football teams and top-tier FCS football teams will be on the schedule.

Another advantage of having a home in the Gateway Football Conference is that it creates Midwest rivalries. No longer will the Jacks need to board a plane and head to California or Utah, rather the Jacks can travel to Iowa, North Dakota and Missouri to see their team play. Three teams (UC-Davis, Cal-Poly and Southern Utah) are farther away than the farthest team from SDSU in the Gateway Football Conference (Youngstown St.).

The major change that comes about from the transaction is that every year SDSU can compete for a national championship trophy and the chance to make the playoffs. Being in one of the top-ranked conferences would go a long way to making a playoff push.

“On a huge, very positive note, going into the Gateway, even though it’s going to be the toughest conference in America, year in and year out, so our competition is going to be really tough, how we feel about it is if you win the conference or finish second you’re almost guaranteed a chance to go to the playoffs,” said Stiegelmeier.